Industry Forecast

Each year, the Industry Forecast provides valuable insights into the year ahead based on publicly available and proprietary research.

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Despite a host of challenges, restaurant industry sales will reach a record high of $863 billion in 2019, per the National Restaurant Association. This marks an increase of 3.6 percent compared with 2018, when the industry posted sales of $833.1 billion. It also marks the tenth consecutive year of industry growth.

The more things change, the more they stay the same in the restaurant industry. Despite significant evolution in the form of consumer dining preferences — including when, where and what they eat — and a growing reliance on technology among operators, overall industry sales continue to inch along during an extended period of moderate growth. That’s been the story the past few years and it seems the industry will maintain that status quo this year and next.

Real growth may be slow in the foodservice industry, but the pace of change will only intensify thanks to a cadre of emerging players, a series of dynamic, business-related issues and operators’ insatiable appetite for growth.

A variety of factors, including social unrest, labor-related issues and a competitive real estate market, keep individual members of the restaurant community inching along toward incremental growth.

Like a train chugging along from station to station, the foodservice industry remains on track to deliver a sixth consecutive year of real growth. To keep from becoming derailed by such external factors as higher egg and beef prices, extreme weather conditions across various parts of the country in the first quarter, and a changing labor landscape, among others, the industry continues to draw on its resilient nature as it keeps dutifully moving along. What's awaiting the industry down the line in 2016? Well, likely more of the same.

Cautious consumers and mixed economic indicators combined with the impact of a harsh winter will result in the foodservice industry experiencing a moderate 2014 but point to a somewhat promising 2015.

The foodservice industry’s status quo now includes slow but steady growth rates, a tighter operator focus on managing expenses and a more pronounced need for the supply chain to better articulate the return on investment their goods and services will provide.

Our subscribing foodservice operators and dealers weigh in on the industry's performance this year and offer an early look at the industry's business climate in 2013.

Looking ahead to 2013, members of the foodservice industry prepare to experience another period of moderate but real growth as operators will rely more heavily on technology and on their supply chain partners to drive their incremental success.

FE&S explores the impact of rising food and gas prices among other challenges facing the foodservice industry as it tries to emerge from economic doldrums.

Only 24 percent of dealers reported that 2010 failed to meet their expectations for sales, according to FE&S' 2011 Dealer Forecast Study. And 76 percent report that their 2010 sales will increase or at least stay the same as 2009 levels.

The good news is that the foodservice industry seems poised to grow. The bad news is that the foodservice industry will move forward at an excruciatingly slow pace.

As foodservice companies begin their 2010 planning, two questions are top of mind: Has the 2009 economic mudslide been as severe as many foodservice professionals projected? More importantly, is it finally over?

What a difference a year makes. According to the National Restaurant Association, one year ago, only 9 percent of its members rated the economy as their top business challenge. Today, 40 percent of the NRA members surveyed said the economy is their top concern.

“You can see how dramatically the landscape has changed,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information services for the National Restaurant Association.

Indeed the foodservice equipment and supplies industry landscape has changed considerably in just 12 months. A year ago, the industries experiencing the greatest pain were those tied to the financial and housing markets and economists were debating whether the U.S. economy had entered a recessionary period. Now it’s widely accepted that the economy’s in a recession, one that promises to be deeper and wider than any the United States has experienced in the past 50 years.

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